Everest 2018: The Challenge of Acclimatization

Everest Oxygen

It has been a good day on Everest as climbers are working hard to acclimitize. Teams on the Nepal side are all over the Hill, from base camp to Camp 2 while it’s a similar map on the Tibet side with teams now at Advanced Base Camp. We are hearing from a few climbers who have returned from their rotations, mostly on the south side. The reports are consistent that the Icefall is good, it’s windy in the Cwm and they are having great time.

The “Ice Cliff”In the Cwm

IMG has been talking about a steep “ice cliff” in the Western Cwm for a week now.  As other teams encounter it, we are getting a better feeling of what it entails. Adventure Consultants posts that:

On the way there is a very steep wall of ice with a ladder, followed by some steep climbing with the ascender on the rope. This wall is a challenge! All of us climbed it very well and, puffing heavily, we reached the top and stopped for five minutes. This turned into half an hour as we watched some kind Sherpas essentially rescue someone who couldn’t climb the obstacle, using a 3:1 pulley and rope system. We even contributed a Prussik cord!

Ice Cliff in the 2018 Western Cwm courtesy of International Mountain Guides

This feature is certainly taller than most of the crevasse depressions above Camp 1 ands takes a toll on climbers as they are expecting a long gentle walk to C2! For the millionth time, this re-enforces that going to Everest assuming there is “no climbing” and no experience is needed is a serious misjudgement. Alpine Ascent’s Eric Murphy gives us a better view of it:

2018 ice cliff in cwm by AAI Eric Murphy

Daniel Wallace with Henry Todd’s team has a nice overview of her first rotation. I like the line: “Climbing for me is all in the mind. I know I am fit enough but I have to keep positive. A negative mind set will drain your energy quickly.” And Lucy Rivers sums ups her time nicely:

Another very windy night at C1 and we waited until the sun hit camp before starting our descent to BC. During the walk up to C2 yesterday, we had seen what looked like a small avalanche above C1, with dust falling lower. Turns out that debris had actually fallen into the ice fall and we had a new route down. A very scary reminder that the ice fall is not a place to hang around for too long if possible. The descent was stunning and I managed to take a few photos this time, after checking with Dorje that it was safe to do so! Ladders on the descent aren’t as scary but the steps (lurches in my case!) across the small crevasses are just as bad. We made it back to the comforts of our Mess tent at BC in just over 2 hours – Yummy food, clean clothes and a watering can esque shower. Heaven!

Looks like Mingma G Sherpa of Imagine Climb reached Camp 3 on their Lhotse climb. He has suggested they might fix the ropes to the summit but apparently that didn’t happen. The climbers hoping to traverse from Everest West Ridge then the Lhotse Ridge, Horia Colibasanu and Peter Hámor did a rotation to Camp 2 and now are down route to Deboche for a little rest. They are climbing without supplemental oxygen so will need to spend at least one night at 8,000 meters to acclimatize before making their summit push.

On the North

Anish Luitel is an ambitious Nepalese climber. He is climbing on behalf of Boy Scouts everywhere. He wants to summit in 15 days by following the rope fixers. I asked him what’s with rushing?  “Hi Alan I have rush to climb because I should attend 3rd national jamboree of Nepal scout which helds on first week of June.I had climbed Everest south side,Island peak,Pumari peak.my motivation behind this climb is to promote Nepalese youth and world youths as well for adventure and to take the flag of 24th world scout jamboree which helds on untied states.I am joining them on 20th of April .I will do my best . I want to climb with rope.fixing team to gain new experieance

Anish summited in 2016 from the south and wants to bring the Boy Scout flag to the summit this year. He is a Scoutmaster in Jhapa as well leading a troop of 60 youth. He is from Duhlabari and is the first person from Jhapa district to have summited Everest. He is 24 years old and was raised by his grandparents and aunts and uncles. He sold property and got some local sponsorships for his first climb. This climb he received support from the local municipality and the Boy Scout council, and the Northern Star Council has picked up the rest of the cost for this climb according to Colleen Galloway of the  North Star Council in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


I’ve written a bit about A 69-year-old Chinese climber, Bo-Yu Xia. He will be guided by Dawa Gyalje Sherpa as he makes his fifth attempt to summit Everest. He has had both legs amputated but is not willing to give up on his dream. Take a couple of minutes to enjoy this video – your daily inspiration!

Russell Brice Appears!

Himalayan Experience‘s website is finally back up and Brice has posted his first “newsletter” of the 2018 season. It’s a day by day summary of their trek to EBC and acclimatization on Lobuche. Today they are at Camp 2, leveraging their time on Lobuche to go directly from EBC to C2 in one push instead of stopping at Camp 1. As usual, Russ holds nothing back as he wraps up this first newsletter:

It would appear that the rope fixing is progressing smoothly under the supervision of Himalayan Guides who has the contract this year. Once again the rope fixing equipment was flown to C2, and work has already started on the Lhotse Face, although these last two days have been to windy to work on the face. Garrett Madison has claimed that he is doing this work, despite the fact that he has not even attended one of the EOA meetings concerning the rope fixing. Credit should be due to those who actually do the work, and this is Iswari Paudel’s company Himalayan Guides. This agency is providing the local Nepal logistics to Adventure Consultants, Jagged Globe, Ice 8,000 and Madison Mountaineering this year. Yesterday the rope was fixed to above the Yellow Band, so today the rope fixers are taking a well-deserved rest.

Our team arrived at BC earlier than normal as we feel that general temperatures are increasing. Despite various world leaders not recognising this, we are seeing that temperatures are slowly increasing from year to year. Despite being here earlier, the coldest night we have had is -14 C, with another night of -12, otherwise it is generally -10 or -9 where as in previous years it would normally be -18 to -12. We all need to take care of this world.

The other thing we are noticing is the increase of EBC trekkers, and the amount of litter and human waste that they are leaving……but also the amount of graffiti they leave on rocks along the way. We as expeditions have taken great care to clean up the EBC, and we must pay $5 per kg to remove our rubbish and human waste, and we have a rule that says we cannot mark any rocks. But trekkers have none of these rules. Trekkers come and take pictures of their own rubbish, poo behind rocks and then blame us as operators on their social media. In two hours our team collected 6 large sacks of rubbish from around trekkers rock, but sorry we are not willing to pick up their human waste. We all complain to the authorities, but like so much in Nepal they take little notice.

Also, he has a nice video introduction on his site that is worth a watch:

Winter K2 – again but not this year

While not about Everest, the ill-fated K2 Polish team seems to be wiling to give it another go not this year but the winter of 2019/20. As you know K2 remains the only 8000er not summited in winter. This last winter’s attempt was fraught with problems not including the detour to rescue Elizabeth Revol on Nanga Parbat. Team dynamics were difficult, route selection questionable and overall it was a study in the difficulty of climbing an 8,000 meter peak in winter, We will see if next time is better. They posted on Facebook:

Following the analysis of the situation and the findings of the organisational committee and the members of the expedition, it was decided that another winter expedition to k2 in the framework of the polish programme Arthur Hajzera, planned for winter 2019/2020.

In the face of the entire communication and communication machine, FTP is convinced that the next 1,5 year should be used for the selection and preparation of the next composition of the expedition, the communication activities, the organisation of preparatory expeditions, as well as

We’ve got 1,5 years of hard work ahead of us. About all plans and activities within ftp and associated with winter expedition we will keep you informed

You can read a bit more on Desnivel.

Tomorrow, April 25, will be a special day in Nepal as it was on this day three years ago that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country taking over 9,000 lives. I was on my way to Camp 2 in the Western Cwm hoping to summit Lhotse that season when the quake hit. Tomorrow’s post will be dedicated to that day, the 18 lives lost at base camp and the thousand more impacted across Nepal.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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3 thoughts on “Everest 2018: The Challenge of Acclimatization

  1. HI Alan, thanks for all the great posts and information. Every April I always look forward to reading and seeing the teams and their efforts to achieve their goals. I really just wanted to say that I appreciate this post and the pictures of the ice cliff. More often than not I think people can perceive, incorrectly of course, that Everest is not that technical. The picture looking down is something that looks less technical in my view than the reality picture looking up it. I hope we get to see more pictures like this as the skilled teams climb higher up the mountain. Thanks again for all your posts.

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